by Barbara Tetreault
April 6, 2015
Activities planned for Sexual Assault Awareness Month at College
BERLIN – April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and White Mountains Community College and RESPONSE are teaming together to raise awareness about the issue.
The numbers are staggering - statistics show one in five women will be raped during their lifetime with only about 30 percent of assaults reported to police. About half of all women will experience some form of sexual violence during their life. Victims of sexual violence are not just women – statistics show one in five men will be the victim of sexual violence.
WMCC Counselor Emily Elliott said she contacted Deborah Haynes, program director for RESPONSE to Sexual and Domestic Violence, to discuss ways the two organizations could work together to put together some activities to raise awareness about sexual assault. She said the college has done training for staff and faculty but she felt there was a need to reach students."We've got to get the word out to students," she said.
Enlisting in the effort is WMCC senior Hunter Childers. A human services major, Childers is currently gaining field experience working with RESPONSE. A member of the Student Senate and Honor Society, he provides a connection to the student body.
Haynes noted a focus of the N.H. Violence Against Women consortium is college campuses. Elliot said WMCC does not have residential halls or dormitories."Our communities are our campus," she said.So the goal was to put together activities that would reach both students and the greater community at large. The three said they also wanted to focus attention on getting people to commit to stopping the violence. In the end, they group came up with a two-prong approach- all funded by the Student Senate.
For three days, April 20, 21, and 22, there will be tables set up at the college bistro, staffed by student volunteers with information on sexual violence as well as buttons and bracelets pledging support to ending sexual and domestic violence. From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., students and members of the public can take a personal pledge to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. Part of the pledge is a commitment to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.
But recognizing that ending sexual assault and violence requires a cultural change and a shift in thinking, the three are also putting together a Voice of Men roundtable, enlisting community leaders to spread the message that sexual assault and sexual violence will not be tolerated. By asking men to promote a shift in attitude, Elliott said they hope to add another voice to the effort.
WMCC President Matt Wood and Coos County Family Health Services President Ken Gordon have agreed to participate along with Jay Sprinkle of the Vet Center, Charles Cotton of Northern Health Services, Berlin Police Lt. Barney Valliere, N.H. Employment Security Manager Mark Belanger, and Hunter Childers.
The roundtable will take place Monday, April 20 and Elliott she hopes the group will comes up with some action steps. She said she would like to see the conversation continue and the project become self-sustaining."Ultimately the goal is to end sexual assault," said Elliott.And that, the group emphasized, requires an understanding that everyone has a role to play to create a cultural environment where women and men are safe from sexual assault and violence
You can see all the White Mountains Community College Says NO MORE activities on their website.